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The only advice anybody can give is, if you wanna be a writer, keep writing. And read all you can, read everything.

 – Stan Lee

I can remember when comic books changed my life.  It was 1993, and I was 11 years old visiting my family in Oakland, California.  My mom was pregnant with my brother, and my life was literally being turned upside down.  I had been an only child for so long, and I didn’t know anything about babies.  On top of that, I was going through that amazing point in puberty where everything “matters,” and I was different.  I was white with an Asian mom with a scary wrestling coach father and was a major tomboy.

One morning at the beginning of the trip, I was watching Saturday Morning cartoons with my cousins, and behold, X-men: The Animated Series was on.  It was the first season and the episode was “Slave Island,” which was about Genosha.  Jubilee, Rogue, Storm, and Gambit travel to this mysterious mutant haven only to be taken as slave labor to help build the island.  I automatically fell in love with Storm because she was so kind yet powerful, and I had to know MORE!

On the last day of the trip, we went to an amusement park called Great America, and I went in the arcade with my fanny pack filled with quarters looking for something fun to play.  They had an X-men arcade game!  I didn’t know any of the kids and there was one spot open in the middle.  My character was Dazzler who made massive light booms.   “You’re a girl so you can play the sucky girl.”  Storm was already spoken for.  At this point, I had no idea who most of these characters were since I had only seen a single episode.  My mom came over to the machine and forever immortalized this moment while surprising me with the flash.

As we were heading back home, I stopped at the airport bookstore and bought my first comic book, X-men #23. It had a pretty violent cover with Cyclops getting mauled to death by the Dark Riders, but I loved it.  After this, I truly became obsessed with X-men comics.  My mom would take me to the comic store frequently, and I’d save my allowance and purchase old back issues.  This was before the internet in my house, so I had to create my own collection.  This truly was the golden area of X-men in my opinion.

All of these memories can be attested to Stan “The Man” Lee.  I loved reading old issues with the Editorial Bullpen documenting funny stories and reading fan letters in the “X-Pressions” section.  X-men was so easy to relate to because the theme was that people fear what they don’t understand.  This is how it feels to be different, and it is ok.  Adolescence was truly hard for every one.

Because of Stan’s vision and amazing universe, I met two amazing female pen pals (who I still correspond with) because I had a letter published in the “X-Pressions” column.  In college, I got hired to work at the campus comic book and video rental store using my knowledge (and being a token girl who loves this stuff, but whatever).  Now with my clean hands, I enjoy cross-stitching and designing patterns of these wonderful characters.

Rest In Peace, Stan.  You were a helluva guy!


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